Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Bright Young People

Another TV blogpost: We recently finished watching all of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (2012). I have seen the Phryne Fisher mystery books in the library, but never read any. Miss Fisher is an Australian flapper and lady detective in 1920s. The Australian Broadcasting Company made the series into a TV program starring Essie Davis that just hits the spot.

It reminds us a lot of the Nero Wolfe show - it has that polished historical feel, the cozy, well-loved characters, but with zing. Post-WWI Melbourne is a colorful setting, but there isn't much to confuse the North American viewer. It seems that Miss Fisher was brought up lower-middle class, lived a Bohemian life in Europe, posing nude for famous artists, attending drug parties, attending orgies, learning to shoot and fight, etc. Then, WWI wiped out a whole generation of her well-placed relatives, leaving her with a ton of money and a title. So she returned to Australia to be outrageous and fabulous.

She meets up with a handsome police detective named Jack Robinson (Nathan Page). If you like the detective's name, you'll love her butler, Mr. Butler (Richard Bly). She has a strait-laced companion, a couple of pinko digger pals, a lesbian doctor for a buddy, and best of all, her Aunt Prudence, played by Miriam Margolyes - The Spanish Infanta from Blackadder, and a true joy.

It's got period sets and locations, a hot jazz soundtrack and some wild flapper gowns. Davis makes a great Miss Fisher, with her bobbed hair, Hispano-Suiza motorcar and gold-plated revolver. Her beauty is that of a Bright Young Thing who isn't all that young anymore. But it isn't all bed-hopping and dope taking - the crimes involve human trafficking, child molesting and some racial and gender politics. There's also a through-line about Phryne's sister, killed by a serial murderer when they were children. This part mostly just annoyed me, and the pay-off episodes were pretty outlandish and even a bit silly. OK, they were fun too - especially since we watched them around the same time as The Cell and a certain Egyptian themed episode of Warehouse 13.

We've finished the first two seasons and will have to wait for the third to come to Netflix. In the meantime, I've started taking the source mysteries by Kerry Greenwood out of the library.

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